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Meet the Star Tribune's preseason Metro Dream Team and more basketball story lines

By Ron Haggstrom, Star Tribune, 12/04/17, 7:00PM CST


A new head coach at DeLaSalle and Minneapolis North's move to Class 2A are among the this season's story lines.

Cretin-Derham Hall's Daniel Oturu, a member of the Star Tribune's preseason Dream Team, dunking against Tartan in last season's Class 4A, Section 4 final. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Cretin Derham Hall's Daniel Oturu, a member of the Star Tribune's preseason Dream Team, should help the Raiders compete for the Class 4A state title once he returns from an ankle injury. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Star Tribune preseason Dream Team

(Listed alphabetically, seniors unless noted.)

Tre Jones, Apple Valley, 6-3 G: Controls the game at both ends of the floor. (College: Duke)

Gabe Kalscheur, DeLaSalle, 6-4 G: Three-point threat who can attack the hoop. (College: Minnesota)

Daniel Oturu, Cretin-Derham Hall, 6-9 C: Wingspan poses plenty of problems. (College: Minnesota)

Jalen Suggs, Minnehaha Academy, 6-5 G, soph.: Explosive and will continue to get stronger. (College: undecided)

Jarvis Thomas Omersa, Orono, 6-8 F: Gaining confidence from the perimeter. (College: Minnesota)

Ten more shooting stars

The talent pool is still deep behind the dream-teamers. They are listed alphabetically and are seniors unless noted. College plans in parentheses.

JaVonni Bickham, Minnehaha Academy, 6-6 F (Denver)
Courtney Brown Jr., East Ridge, 6-7 F, jr. (undecided)
Jarius Cook, Park Center, 6-2 G (North Dakota State)
Joe Hedstrom, Hopkins, 6-10 C (Wisconsin)
Michael Jones, Woodbury, 6-4 G (Davidson)
Zeke Nnaji, Hopkins, 6-8 F, jr. (undecided)
David Roddy, Breck, 6-5 F, jr. (undecided)
Tyrell Terry, DeLaSalle, 6-0 G, jr. (undecided)
Tyler Wahl, Lakeville North, 6-6 F, jr. (undecided)
Calvin Wishart, Delano, 6-2 G (Georgia Southern)

Star Tribune metro boys' top 10

1. Apple Valley (4A): Tre Jones single-handedly carried the Eagles to a state championship a year ago. The supporting cast around him is more experienced and better now.
2. Cretin-Derham Hall (4A): Top eight players return and the front line boasts plenty of size, headed by 6-10 Daniel Oturu. Anything less than a state title won’t suffice.
3. Minnehaha Academy (2A): Loaded with talent, headed by Jalen Suggs, and still young. The Redhawks return nine of their top 10 players, and over 90 percent of their scoring. With their school damaged by an explosion, they will play home games at various sites around the metro.
4. Hopkins (4A): It’s been nearly a decade since the Royals failed to reach the state tournament in back-to-back years. After last year’s hiatus, don’t plan on it in 2017-18.
5. Park Center (4A): The Pirates haven’t been in the state tourney field since being the Class 4A runner-up in 2013. That changes with this small, athletic group.
6. DeLaSalle (3A): A changing of the guard with Travis Bledsoe now running the program, but the Islanders still boast an outstanding backcourt.
7. Minneapolis North (2A): The Class 1A defending state champions move up in classification this year. Coach Larry McKenzie will have them ready.
8. East Ridge (4A): Look for the Raptors to become more consistent under new coach Bryce Tesdahl, formerly with New Prague.
9. Lakeville North (4A): John Oxton has guided the Panthers to six consecutive state tourney trips. He knows how to reload on a yearly basis.
10. Orono (3A): Coach Barry Wohler’s squad faces the task of trying to advance from a tough section that includes DeLaSalle.

Story lines

1. New leader at DeLaSalle
Former Islanders guard Travis Bledsoe begins his first season coaching DeLaSalle, replacing the animated Dave Thorson. In 23 years at DeLaSalle, Thorson compiled a career record of 527-136 while winning more state championships (nine) than any other boys’ or girls’ coach in state history, including the last six from 2012-17 in Class 3A. He left to become an assistant coach at Drake University. Bledsoe has plenty of talent to work with, led by guards senior Gabe Kalscheur and junior Tyrell Terry. They also have added junior Jamison Battle, who transferred from Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

2. Pitino gets three to stay
Kalscheur, Daniel Oturu of Cretin-Derham Hall and Jarvis Thomas Omersa of Orono will stay home and join Gophers coach Richard Pitino next season at Williams Arena. “We feel like we’ve had back-to-back-to-back really good recruiting classes,” Pitino told the Star Tribune’s Marcus Fuller. “And that’s how you turn a program around.” The Gophers are currently 8-1 on the season and ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press poll.

3. Polars, McKenzie aim at 2A
Larry McKenzie had guided teams to the Class 3A championship as well as Class 1A. Now, he gets a chance at Class 2A. Two-time Class 1A defending state champion Minneapolis North was moved up this year due to enrollment. McKenzie won four consecutive crowns (2000-03) with Minneapolis Henry. Don’t think for a minute that the Polars and McKenzie won’t be in the hunt for another title. Senior Odell Wilson in the paint and senior Tayler Johnson and junior Nasir El-Amin on the perimeter will lead a talented and athletic group.

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